Japan has as much desire as any other East Asian country to have the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programme resolved. Along with South Korea, it has the most to lose if Pyongyang develops nuclear weapons. Yet Japanese officials have been strangely complacent about finding a solution. Reports that Japan, the United States, South Korea, China and Russia could sign an accord with North Korea to build thermal power stations in exchange for its scrapping of nuclear materials are therefore highly encouraging. While South Korea, China and Russia have suggested ways of resolving the standoff between Pyongyang and Washington, Japan has only criticised developments across the Yellow Sea. Such a position may not seem so odd for a nation angered by decades of North Korean terrorism - the hijacking of a plane in 1970, the abductions of civilians in the 1980s and the firing of a missile towards its territory in 1998. None of these issues was adequately resolved during Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Pyongyang last September. Neither was North Korea satisfied with Japan's apology - and lack of compensation - for the colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. North Korea's reneging in the past three months on a pact to curb its nuclear programme was therefore not surprising. Japan is well placed to lay its concerns to rest. Under the 1994 pact between the North and the US, Japan was instrumental in bankrolling the consortium which was to have built light-water reactors to replace Pyongyang's ageing nuclear plant. The pact was meant to prevent North Korea producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. The new accord being proposed would create a consortium bringing together Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the US. It is the most viable solution to the problem of how to prevent nuclear proliferation while resolving North Korea's energy needs. Japan must give the proposal its full backing. By doing so, it can begin to repair its relations with North Korea while ensuring regional security and stability.